This item came across my Facebook feed this morning. It seems to be advocating not using wind power, which is a component to mitigate green house gas contributions to the atmosphere. In effect, it seems to be climate communications oriented towards being opposed to reducing green house gases caused by power generation.
Practicing “factfulness” finds this is a loaded propaganda message.
First, this is an old item, as illustrated by reference to “The Obama administration….” That is the initial clue that this social media item is probably an old propaganda message that lives on forever.
Next, the linked text presents lots of facts – but lot and lots of facts can be used to bury you such that you stop thinking. Do you see the problem with this quote, below?
In 2012, breaking the European omerta on wind farm mortality, the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/Birdlife) reviewed actual carcass counts from 136 monitoring studies. They concluded that Spain’s 18,000 wind turbines are killing 6-18 million birds and bats yearly.
Extrapolating that and similar (little publicized) German and Swedish studies, 39,000 U.S. wind turbines would not be killing “only” 440,000 birds (USFWS, 2009) or “just” 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats (Smallwood, 2013), but 13-39 million birds and bats every year!
One cannot extrapolate a study done at various locations in Europe, with different species of birds, using different wind technology, in different geographical conditions – to the U.S. An estimate of 13-39 is a 3 to 1 range and now they’ve bundled “birds and bats” because “birds and bats” creates an even larger number.
“Millions” of bird deaths sounds bad – until you learn domestic cats in the U.S. kill an estimated 2.4 BILLION birds every year! Context matters.
This propaganda message leaves out context to put those numbers in perspective.
- Domestic cats may kill 2.4 BILLION birds and 12.3 BILLION small mammals per year in the U.S.
- Up to 1 BILLION birds may die each year due to crashing into buildings
- Up to 64 MILLION birds may die each year from colliding with power lines.
- Up to 340 MILLION birds may die from vehicle collisions each year
- Hunters shoot tens of millions of birds each year
- Pesticides kill tens of millions.
In fact, about 5 BILLION birds die every year in the U.S. (or 13.7 million per day). The total number of birds in the U.S. varies (due to migrations) between perhaps 10 billion and 20 billion.
There are more causes of bird deaths than these, of course. Regardless, we are comparing BILLIONS of non-wind power bird deaths to low MILLIONS of wind power deaths. Wind turbine deaths are less than 1/1000th of those caused by the other methods listed.
Leaving out context is a great way to persuade others of your agenda. In this example, one group would like to see fewer wind turbine deaths – and possibly is opposed to use of wind turbines for mitigating green house gases from power generation.
This item is related to Climate Communications – albeit, barely.